GET HARD (USA/16/100mins)
Directed by Etan Cohen. Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, TI, Jon Mayer.
THE PLOT: James King (Will Ferrell) has it all; a beautiful fiancée (Alison Brie), a wonderful home and a job that he is good at. Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) runs a car wash and dreams of being able to provide a better life for his wife and young daughter. When King is framed for fraud, however, he turns to Darnell – believing the poorer man spent time in prison – to help him prepare for his stint on the inside. Little does King realise, that while Darnell is turning his home into a makeshift prison, he is winging it, and has never been to prison, or even committed a crime.

THE VERDICT: It seems there have been a slew of mediocre bromantic comedies lately, and although GET HARD seems like it would be just another in this line of disappointments, it is surprisingly funny. The manic tendencies of Kevin Hart have been calmed down slightly, and pairing him with the comedically clever Will Ferrell is a touch of brilliance, as the two actors work well together to elevate the film and set it apart from those that have gone before.

Will Ferrell is as over the top and hilarious as we have come to expect from the actor, but he carefully manages his performance to be low energy, as he is technically playing the straight man to Hart’s manic comedian. There are times at the start of the film where it seems Ferrell is erring a little to much on the side of caution, but he opens up when the film gives him space, and is as madcap and funny as ever. As mentioned, Kevin Hart is not as shouty and obnoxious as he has been in the past, even managing to give Darnell a touch of honest sincerity. Elsewhere, it’s great to see Alison Brie play a selfish, gold digging bitch as it is such a change for the Community actress. Rapper TI turns up as Darnell’s cousin, and Jon Mayer makes a cameo at a party.

Jay Martel, Ian Roberts and Etan Cohen’s screenplay has a basis in reality, but soon swaps this for the ridiculous, and the comedically brilliant. It would be easy for the film to be racist or homophobic, but there is a careful balance created to show Darnell and Ferrell as reasonable men in an extraordinary situation. There are plenty of physical gags, and tons of dick jokes, but in the context of the film, these go from being cheap laughs to being a natural part of the fabric of the film.

First time director Etan Cohen has not only toned Kevin Hart down, but has made a well paced and funny film, that manages not to offend any one group of society, while being offensively funny. Cohen obviously allowed Ferrell and Hart the space to ad-lib, and the chemistry between the two actors is great. There are times when the pacing drops and legal wrangling gets in the way, but the film recovers well, and manages to be amusing right to the end, even if some of the jokes don’t always land.

In all, GET HARD is silly, over the top and fantastically funny. Ferrell and Hart are a strong double act and Cohen’s film is well paced, for the most part. There are some jokes that don’t land, and some dodgy pacing in the middle, but GET HARD is one of the best bromantic comedies we have had the pleasure of seeing on screen in a while.

Review by Brogen Hayes

Get Hard
Review by Brogen Hayes
4.0Fantastically Funny!
  • filmbuff2011

    Kevin Hart seems to be the go-to guy when people need help. In The Wedding Ringer, he played a guy who helped another guy get through his wedding. In Get Hard, he plays a guy who helps another guy get through jail. Hart plays Darnell, a decent, law-abiding dude who runs a car-washing service. He frequently looks after the car belonging to James (Will Ferrell), a hedge fund manager who has it all and is set to marry his boss’ daughter Alissa (Alison Brie). But when James is convicted of fraud, he has 30 days to get his affairs in order. Believing Darnell to be the stereotypical African-American male who gets arrested and incarcerated, he asks him for help. Darnell goes along with it, training James up for life on the inside – which is unlike anything else he’s experienced so far… Get Hard is another of those high-concept crude comedies whose plot could be written on the back of a postage stamp. There’s nothing too original here and it seems rather ridiculous that four writers have been credited for what is essentially a run-of-the-mill screenplay. That said though, Ferrell has fun with his character, who is essentially a wimp born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Hart is the real star though. He’s still relatively unknown in Europe, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s tagged as the next Eddie Murphy. He’s got the charisma and comic delivery of Murphy, so he’s certainly going places. Debut director Etan Cohen comes up with some silly set-pieces involving painfully awkward toilet encounters, playground scraps and a last-minute rush to retrieve a computer. The ending is particularly bad, lazily tacked on to give it some sort of resolution and let James come out squeaky clean. That just doesn’t ring true. There are some good laughs to be had here, but it’s still pretty weak stuff. **

  • emerb

    Director Etan Cohen brings us his directorial debut “Get Hard”, a slapstick, raunchy bromance starring comedy duo, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. Will Ferrell plays James King, a wealthy, arrogant financial executive arrested for insider trading at the company owned by the man who was due to become his father-in-law (Craig T. Nelson). He gets sentenced to a maximum security prison for 10 years by a judge who feels white-collar criminals get off too lightly and wants to make an example of him. James, however, is totally unprepared to deal with life
    behind bars. Kevin Hart plays Darnell, the owner of a small carwash who King mistakes for an ex-con. Darnell has never been to prison and is in fact a law-abiding citizen and a doting Dad who is struggling to afford to move to a better neighbourhood with his family and is more than happy to accept James’ statistical “deduction” one in three black men will serve time in jail. He willingly allows James to hire him as a “prison prep instructor” and enable him to “get hard”. Given his own lack of knowledge about life on the inside, Darnell has to come up with a training curriculum for his new client which ends up as a comically, haphazard preparatory plan, whereby he attempts to teach him how to win fights and avoid prison rape. This is where much of the comedy emanates and some of the scenes are genuinely very funny such as grudgingly starting fights with random strangers in the park for practice and setting up a fake prison in his home which is run by his Hispanic servants who are more than happy to oblige and take pleasure in tormenting their insufferable, super rich boss. The
    remainder of the storyline is where teacher and pupil gain a certain respect
    for each other and join forces. They discover James has been framed him for the embezzlement that he didn’t commit and set out to track down those who got him falsely convicted.

    While some of the comedy and witty dialogue will raise a smile, the prison rape jokes get predictable and tiresome. For example, as the steps to turn James into a fighter fail, Darnell thinks he might be better off learning to perform oral sex on other prisoners and so brings him to a gay bar. This leads to a scene where Ferrell attempts to overcome his revulsion and give a predatory middle-aged man (Matt Walsh) a blow job in a toilet stall, before failing and collapsing in tears.The movie wants to get the shock laugh that comes from male nudity but for me, the groaning, squirming and cringeing in front of a fake penis just didn’t work. On the otherhand, I thought a later scene where Darnell encourages James to pursue membership in an all-white gang for his protection on the inside, worked well. It was hilarious to watch Ferrell caught in a bubble of racist rhetoric which led to Hart being forced to throw himself into the fray to rescue the situation. For me, this was one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

    However, while this scene and a few others like it have some laughs, the film is not consistently hilarious and only raises a few sporadic smiles. What rescues “Get Hard” is that Ferrell and Hart are both talented actors. They prove to be a very likable comic duo and are consistently crowd-pleasing. Together, the pair just look like a comedy team even though they are very different comedians. Much of the comedy stems from their physical contrasts. The giant, wiry-haired, beady-eyed Ferrell towers over the diminutive, energized Hart and this is amusing in itself. James uses Hart for bench-pressing and treats him as a liftable, throwable buddy. Ferrell is a gifted comedic actor and is as fearless as
    ever, willing to do anything – even strip down and look foolish. I liked the transformation we see in his character. He starts as a soft, hapless clown crying his eyes out at the drop of a hat, doing naked yoga at his window (completely unaware of his domestics who must endure this unwanted display of flesh!) and completely under the thumb of his selfish and materialistic fiancee (Alison Brie) who “needs” a bigger house than the mansion they already have.

    Apparently there has been much criticism levelled at the movie for its racism and homophobia and it has to be admitted that this is a daring comedy that consistently pushes the boundaries for what would be considered acceptable in today’s politically correct society. The script isn’t particularly good but it moves along at a nice pace and while Ferrell and Hart don’t bring us anything particularly new, there is a playful, light hearted feel to the movie which I enjoyed. Fans of the pair will certainly get their chuckles but others will be less amused.
    For me, this buddy romp was a bit of harmless fun and will entertain you for a night out. Having said that, I felt that some of the gross-out jokes were over the line and also diminished the film. Whatever you do, don’t bring your parents!